William F. Buckley: 22 Moments from A Fully-Lived Life

November 24, 1925 – February 27, 2008

Quotes, Tributes and Anecdotes
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* Is McCain Running Scared?

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In early 1977, Jimmy Carter was just settling into the White House and the conservative movement was preparing intellectually for it’s moment in the sun that would come in 1980.

That occurred when Ronald Reagan was elected to the U.S. presidency and Reagan read William F. Buckley.

It’s been years since a young then-liberal visited the local library every fortnight to read the latest copy of National Review to learn of the latest goings-on in the then-percolating world of conservatism.

National Review was a window into Buckley’s world. It was a world of tight grammar, proper usage of English and the occasional Latin phrase which sent the reader (this one, at any rate) scurrying for a reference.

Earlier we presented “William F. Buckley: Ten Quotes to Remember Him By“.

Now, a collection: a WFB hodge-podge of quotes, exchanges and pithy excerpts from writings.

In short, some moments from the life of William F. Buckley.

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”
–on WFB’s favorite target

William F. Buckley once sent fellow author Norman Mailer a copy of his latest book. Mailer, disappointed to find that Buckley had apparently neglected to inscribe the book, promptly flipped through the index to see whether he had been mentioned. There, beside his name, Mailer found Buckley’s ‘inscription’ – a handwritten “Hi!”

“When I began this, I said it would be a miracle if I won. After listening to my opponents, I think it would be a miracle if I lost.”
–On the 1965 NYC mayor’s race; Buckley was a candidate.

“On the witness stand I argued that the word “jig” could be used other than as animadversion. The feverish lawyer grabbed a book from his table and slammed it down on the arm of my chair.

“Have you ever heard of a dictionary?” he asked scornfully, as if he had put the smoking gun in my lap.

I examined the American Heritage College Dictionary and said yes, I was familiar with it.

“In fact,” I was able to say, opening the book, “I wrote the introduction to this edition.”

That was the high moment of my forensic life.”
–WFB, National Review May 19, 2006

“I would like to electrocute everyone who uses the word “fair” in connection with income tax policies.”

“I get satisfaction of three kinds. One is creating something, one is being paid for it and one is the feeling that I haven’t just been sitting on my ass all afternoon.”

–on his manic work schedule

“[S]o unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowned heads of antimusic.”

–WFB on the Beatles

Conservative political pundit William F. Buckley, Jr. was once asked to appear on “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” Buckley, who had politely declined, later agreed to make a cameo appearance – after receiving the following comic telegram:

“Would you appear on the show if we flew you in on a plane with two right wings?”

“I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.”

“Back in the thirties we were told we must collectivize the nation because the people were so poor. Now we are told we must collectivize the nation because the people are so rich.”

–on the philosophical flexibility of socialists

“Of course, he will always tend to reach first for an anecdote. But then, so does the New Testament.”
–WFB on Ronald Reagan’s intellect

“Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription.”
–WFB to irate reader who wrote to “cancel my subscription to National Review

In 1965, William F. Buckley ran for the office of mayor of New York City. Given the odds of his clinching a victory, Buckley’s campaign was ridiculed by many political pundits, chief among them William F. Buckley.

One day a reporter asked the candidate to name the first thing he would do in the event of a victory. Buckley’s reply? “Demand a recount!”

“I profoundly believe it takes a lot of practice to become a moral slob.”

Gore Vidal to Buckley: “As far as I am concerned, the only crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself.”

Buckley: “Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi, or I’ll sock you in your goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.”

–WFB to Gore Vidal in 1968.

I leave it at this, that it is outrageous to live in a society whose laws tolerate sending young people to life in prison because they grew, or distributed, a dozen ounces of marijuana. I would hope that the good offices of your vital profession would mobilize at least to protest such excesses of wartime zeal, the legal equivalent of a My Lai massacre. And perhaps proceed to recommend the legalization of the sale of most drugs, except to minors.”
–From July 1, 1996 issue of National Review
For an interesting collection of WFB thoughts on marijuana and the Drug War, check out”William F Buckley, RIP“.

– – – – – – – – – – –

On hearing of Buckley’s demise, there were no end to eulogies and tributes. Here are what several people have said or written about WFB, either when he was living or later.

President Ronald Reagan about WFB:

[T]he most influential journalist and intellectual of our era.

“It [The National Review] is to the West Wing of the White House what People magazine is to your dentist’s office.”

William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard in 1999 on WFB:

“He legitimized conservatism as an intellectual movement and therefore as a political movement. . . . For people of my generation, Bill Buckley was pretty much the first intelligent, witty, well-educated conservative one saw on television. “

From left writerl/blogger Rick Perlstein:

““He did the honor of respecting his ideological adversaries, without covering up the adversarial nature of the relationship in false bonhommie. A remarkable quality, all too rare in an era of the false fetishization of “post-partisanship” and Broderism and go-along-to-get-along. He was friends with those he fought. He fought with friends. These are the highest civic ideals to which an American patriot can aspire…”

Bart Barnes, in the MSM Washington Post:

“The intellectual founder of the modern conservative movement, who helped define the movement’s doctrines of anti-communism, military strength, social order and a capitalist economy”

Katharine Mieszkowski in Salon:

“Buckley’s biggest achievement was revitalizing conservatism at a time when it had been marginalized in the United States for decades, since conservatives had opposed Roosevelt’s New Deal and advocated isolationism before the U.S. entry into World War II. Buckley was the intellectual force behind failed U.S. presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964, and later the rise of President Ronald Reagan. His work incorporated the ideas of libertarian Max Eastman, economist Milton Friedman and anti-communist writers like Whittaker Chambers.”

William F. Buckley
Rest in Peace.

compiled by Mondoreb
image: du
* Why William F Buckley was My Role Model
* The War on Drugs is Lost
* William F. Buckley
* William F. Buckley: RIP Enfant Terrible
* A conservative Pioneer
* Conservative William F. Buckley, Dies at 82
* Scenic Florida quotes
* Cancel Your own goddam subscription, book review
* Modoblog
* Obituary Mambo
* William F. Buckley has went home
* William F. Buckley


Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.


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